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Avalanche Buries Skier in New Hampshire After Nor'Easter

After some areas of New England saw over three feet of snow earlier this week from a powerful nor'easter, an avalanche occurred with the fresh snow in New Hampshire's White Mountains.

At around 10am on Wednesday, just hours after the storm pulled away from the area, a skier on Wildcat-B in Carter Notch triggered an avalanche. The skier was caught and carried 500 feet by the avalanche. When the avalanche subsided, the skier remained buried for upwards of six minutes before their partner found and dug them out. The buried skier was able to get their hand above the surface, which is what their partner saw.

Here is an excerpt from the accident summary from the Mount Washington Avalanche Center:

"Skier A encouraged Skier B and Skier C to reconsider the objective and descend Wildcat Ski Area as a safe alternative. Skier B and Skier C made the decision to continue on the ridge trail to Wildcat B to access the original objective without Skier A. Before splitting up, Skier A loaned their avalanche beacon to Skier B who forgot this piece of rescue equipment. At that point, Skiers B and C both had an avalanche rescue kit: beacon, shovel, and probe. Once at the top of the intended ski objective, Skiers B and C decided to continue and ski one-at-a-time. Skier C began descending and triggered a large soft slab avalanche at the steepest part of the slope, in an area where a steep ice bulge often forms. They were caught in the moving debris and carried over 500 vertical feet down a narrow, constricting gully. They came to rest fully buried, except for their hand, and were trapped and unable to move under the avalanche debris."

From Mount Washington Avalanche Center

Fortunately, the skier was uninjured from the incident, and the pair were able to get themselves out of the area without further incident. The avalanche danger for the Presidential Range on Wednesday was rated at HIGH, or level 4, which is the second highest level of avalanche danger.

Level 4 of avalanche danger states "very dangerous avalanche conditions; natural avalanches likely, human triggered avalanches very likely."

While Carter Notch is outside the Presidential Range, the Mount Washington Avalanche center noted that avalanche danger can be applied anywhere in the White Mountains where there is a steep slope of at least 30 degrees.

While these skiers were in the backcountry, it's worth noting that Wildcat Ski Area reported that 29 inches of snow fell during the nor'easter the day prior.

As of Friday 3/17, the avalanche danger is MODERATE, or level 2.



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